Lariccias give 4 pianos to schools
By kristine Gill
Jessica Lee’s fingers glided with ease as the fourth-grader played the piano for students at C.H. Campbell Elementary School.
Jessica was among the first students to try her hand last week at one of four pianos donated to the district by Tony and Mary Lariccia of Boardman this month.
“When things are going good for me, I think of others,” said Tony, a retired broker who worked for more than 30 years at Merrill Lynch.
Tony and Mary met students at C. H. Campbell last week and music teacher Janet Williams for a demo of the instruments. Eager first-graders peered inside the piano to spy its moving innards while Jessica and Williams played.
Tony first had seen the player grand piano at the Giant Eagle in Canfield where it was on display playing from a CD. He contacted its seller, Thomas Solich, owner of Solich Piano and Music Co.
“After the election when the levy didn’t pass, I thought, ‘Jeez, that should lift spirits,’” Tony said.
The pianos aren’t standard upright pianos. They’re Kawai GM-10K grand pianos of a sleek ebony color with all the grace of a concert piano plus the sophistication of a player piano.
“They’re grand pianos that have this technology built into them,” Solich said. “They’re just gorgeous, and they play like a dream.”
The pianos are equipped with an iPod stocked with music the piano can read and play on its own. When students play, they can set the piano to record and play back the pieces later. This feature also allows a teacher to set the piano to play certain bars in a song while she conducts from the other side of the room.
As a concert pianist and graduate of the Baldwin- Wallace Conservatory of Music in Berea, Solich understands how coveted Kawais are.
“What’s mind-boggling to me there are numerous musical colleges and conservatories around the world who would only dream to have this kind of technology,” he said, adding that his company is the exclusive dealer of Kawai pianos in the Youngstown, Warren, Pittsburgh and Boston regions.
Solich said the main difference between an upright piano and a grand piano is sound quality.
“With an upright, the sound is up against a wall out of convenience. The sound goes straight up, hits the wall and is confined,” he said. “With a grand piano, the sound board is horizontal, so instead of just going up and down, you get this explosion of musical sonority that can fill anything from a small room to a huge auditorium.”
But what impresses Solich more than the pianos themselves are the man who gave them.
“I’ve never met somebody with such an incredibly big heart,” Solich said of Lariccia.
Superintendent Dante Zambrini expressed his thanks in a press release saying: “We are very appreciative of this generous donation to the students of the Canfield Local Schools.”
The Lariccias are longtime Youngstown-area philanthropists who also have donated generously to Canfield’s Renovate the Roost program to improve the stadium as well as to Youngstown State University among other institutions.
“We just love Canfield,” Tony said — adding that one of his daughters is a tutor within the district.